Jos. A. Bank sales defy gravity of Sept. 11

Clothier overcomes plummeting receipts to post 13% increase

October 11, 2001|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Despite a downturn in retail spending, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. saw its comparable-store sales rise slightly in September, the Hampstead men's apparel retailer said yesterday.

Sales at stores open at least a year - a key measure of a retailer's performance - increased by 0.7 percent during the month, the company said. That follows a same-store sales increase of 3.1 percent in August.

Shares of Jos. Bank rose 84 cents, or 15 percent, to close at $6.25 yesterday.

Total sales rose 13.3 percent last month to $18.4 million, compared with $16.2 million in September 2000. Bank said its catalog sales climbed 15.2 percent and Internet sales soared 166 percent.

Sales turned down during the two weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Robert N. Wildrick, chief executive officer.

"While we experienced a significant short-term setback following the terrible Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, we have achieved strong sales in recent weeks," Wildrick said.

Sales of suits, trousers, leather jackets and silk polo shirts were especially strong in September, he said.

The company's net income has risen significantly during the first two months of the third quarter, which ends Nov. 3, Wildrick said.

Earnings have risen as the company has trimmed expenses, in part by cutting out the middleman in manufacturing and making more goods directly through joint ventures and contracts with domestic and overseas plants.

"We've passed on the savings to the customer in terms of pricing and quality," which in turn has driven sales, Wildrick said.

Most national retail chains are expected to release September sales figures today.

One survey released yesterday by TeleCheck Services Inc., a check acceptance company, showed that sales at retailers nationally were up slightly, by 0.9 percent, in September.

"Sales began to trend upward during the last half of the month, a sign of our economy's ability to rebound from crisis as it has done historically," said William Ford, a senior economic adviser for TeleCheck.

The modest increase in September same-store sales likely reflects the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate cuts, plus boosts in spending on patriotic and precautionary items, Ford said.

Wildrick said Jos. Bank recently told its employees that it plans no layoffs this year and that it went ahead with planned annual pay raises last month.

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